Locked-in or ready for climate change mitigation? Agri-food networks as structures for dairy-beef farming

Abstract

Many countries have included agriculture as one of the sectors where they intend to obtain significant greenhouse gas emission reductions. In Norway, the dairy-beef sector, in particular, has been targeted for considerable emission cuts. Despite publicly expressed interest within the agricultural sector for reducing emissions, significant measures have yet to be implemented. In this paper, we draw on qualitative data from Norway when examining the extent the wider agri-food network around farmers promotes or restrains the transition toward low-emission agricultural production. A qualitative analysis based on interviews with key stakeholders from various parts of the agri-food network of dairy-beef indicates that, if it is up to the dairy-beef system itself, it will develop in the direction of continued increased production volumes and increased efficiency in production, combined with moderate measures to reduce emissions. There is an obvious reluctance to stimulate the consumer demand toward other products or meat products with reduced emissions because such a solution would complicate full exploitation of existing agricultural resources and hence could bring considerable negative economic consequences. Another factor limiting the scope and drive towards a low-carbon production is that the effects of various potential climate measures do not appear as unambiguous. Our study indicates that the dairy-beef sector will likely not reach the goal of reduced emissions from its own initiatives. Rather, significant changes would probably require both push and pull support from forces outside the agricultural system.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  1. 1.

    At the beginning of 2017, the average dairy farm had 26.3 cows (Norsk Landbruk 2017a, b).

  2. 2.

    The Norwegian Climate and Pollution Agency, which was merged into the Norwegian Environment agency in 2013.

  3. 3.

    The multi-level perspective (MLP) on transitions highlights three conceptual levels, where the interplay between developments on each of them are of importance: Socio-technical regimes are established systems of practices and rules, niches are radical innovations that enable regime change, and an exogenous socio-technical landscape constitutes the third level (Geels, 2002, 2005, 2011).

  4. 4.

    In Norway, related to the climate challenges, a quite heavy and critical debate on cattle and methane emissions has developed in the media over the last four years.

  5. 5.

    As there currently is competition to rent land for farmers to expand production, many farmers must rent land at a distance from their own farms.

Abbreviations

GHG:

Greenhouse gas

NRF:

Norwegian Red Cattle

ETS:

EU emissions trading system

References

  1. Aalerud, E.H. and V. Kvakkestad. 2011. Klimatiltak i landbruket – En gjennomgang av tiltak i Klimakur 2020. Notat 2011–11. Oslo: Norsk institutt for landbruksøkonomisk forskning.

  2. Aase, B. B. 2018. Køyrer hardt for klimakutt i jordbruket. Nationen, 5 Oct, 4–5.

  3. Aase, B. B. 2019. Avviser kjøttkutt, CO2-avgift og myrforbod. Nationen, 7 Feb, 4.

  4. Aass, L., and B.A. Åby. 2018. Mulige tiltak for reduksjon av klimagassutslipp fra husdyrsektoren. Ås: Norges miljø- og biovitenskapelige universitet.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Almås, R. 2004. Norwegian agricultural history. Trondheim: Tapir Academic Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Barbier, E. 2011. Transaction costs and the transition to environmentally sustainable development. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions 1: 58–69.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Bardalen, A., S. Rivedal, A. Aune, A.O. Toole, F. Walland et al. 2018. Utslippsreduksjoner i norsk jordbruk: Kunnskapsstatus og tiltaksmuligheter. Rapport 4/149. Ås: Norsk institutt for bioøkonomi.

  8. Beudou, J., G. Martin, and J. Ryschawy. 2017. Cultural and territorial vitality services play a key role in livestock agroecological transition in France. Agronomy for Sustainable Development 37: 1–11.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Bonesmo, H., and O.M. Harstad. 2013. Storfe og klimagasser: Fakta, utfordringer og muligheter. In Fram mot ein berekraftig og klimatilpassa norsk landbruksmodell, ed. R. Almås, H. Bjørkhaug, H. Campbell, and C.A. Smedshaug, 203–227. Trondheim: Akademika forlag.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Bonesmo, H., K.A. Beauchemin, O.M. Harstad, and A.O. Skjelvåg. 2013. Greenhouse gas emission intensities of grass silage based dairy and beef production: A systems analysis of Norwegian farms. Livestock Science 152: 239–252.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Borgen, S.O., P.O. Røkholt, and A.-C. Sørensen. 2006. Norsk landbrukssamvirke – fra forvaltning til marked: roller og strategier. Oslo: Norsk institutt for landbruksøkonomisk forskning.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Brédart, D., and P.M. Stassart. 2017. When farmers learn through dialog with their practices: A proposal for a theory of action for agricultural trajectories. Journal of Rural Studies 53: 1–13.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Brobakk, J. 2018. A climate for change? Norwegian farmers’ attitudes to climate change and climate policy. World Political Science 14: 55–79.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Burton, R.J.F., and S. Peoples. 2014. Market liberalisation and drought in New Zealand: A case of ‘double exposure’ for dryland sheep farmers? Journal of Rural Studies 33: 82–94.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Darnhofer, I., J. Fairweather, and H. Moller. 2010. Assessing a farm's sustainability: Insights from resilience thinking. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability 8: 186–198.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Darnhofer, I. 2015. Socio-technical transitions in farming: key concepts. In Transition pathways towards sustainability in agriculture, ed. L.-A. Sutherland, I. Darnhofer, G.A. Wilson, and L. Zagata, 17–31. Oxfordshire: CABI.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Edquist, C. 1997. Systems of innovation approaches—Their emergence and characteristics. In Systems of innovation: Technologies, institutions and organisations, ed. C. Edquist, 1–35. London: Pinter.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Elzen, B., M. Barbier, M. Cerf, and J. Grin. 2012. Stimulating transitions towards sustainable farming systems. In Farming systems research into the 21st century: The new dynamic, ed. I. Darnhofer, D. Gibbon, and B. Dedieu, 431–455. Dordrecht: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Felleskjøpet. 2019. Felleskjøpet reserverer 50 Nikola Tre lastebiler. https://www.felleskjopet.no/presse/nyheter/felleskjopet-reserverer-50-nikola-tre-lastebiler/. Accessed 20 Jan 2019.

  20. Fellmann, T., P. Witzke, F. Weiss, B.V. Doorslaer, D. Drabik, et al. 2018. Major challenges of integrating agriculture into climate change mitigation policy frameworks. Mitigation and Adaption Strategies for Global Change 23: 451–468.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Fleming, A., A.-M. Dowd, E. Gaillard, S. Park, and M. Howden. 2015. “Climate change is the least of my worries”: Stress limitations on adaptive capacity. Rural Society 24: 24–41.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Flemsæter, F., H. Bjørkhaug, and J. Brobakk. 2017. Farmers as climate citizens. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 61: 2050–2066.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Foresight. 2011. The future of food and farming: Challenges and choices for global sustainability. Final project report. London: The Government Office for Science.

  24. Geels, F.W. 2002. Technological transitions as evolutionary reconfiguration processes: A multi-level perspective and a case-study. Research Policy 31: 1257–1274.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Geels, F.W. 2005. The dynamics of transitions in socio-technical systems: A multi-level analysis of the transition pathway from horse-drawn carriages to automobiles (1860–1930). Technology Analysis & Strategic Management 17: 445–476.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Geels, F.W. 2011. The multi-level perspective on sustainability transitions: Responses to seven criticisms. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions 1: 24–40.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Geels, F.W. 2014. Regime resistance against low-carbon transitions: Introducing politics and power into the multi-level perspective. Theory, Culture & Society 31: 21–40.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Grabher, G. 1993. The weakness of strong ties; the lock-in of regional development in the Ruhr area. In The embedded firm: On the socio-economics of industrial networks, ed. G. Grabher, 255–277. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Hassink, R. 2007. The strength of weak lock-ins: The renewal of the Westmünsterland textile industry. Environment and Planning A 39: 1147–1165.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Hohle, E.E., F. Lyssandtræ, K. Orlund, K.N. Killingland, P. Mortensen et al. 2016. Landbruk og klimaendringer. Rapport fra arbeidsgruppe. https://www.regjeringen.no/contentassets/416c222bde624f938710ff36751ef4d6/rapport-landbruk-og-klimaendringer---rapport-fra-arbeidsgruppe-190216.pdf. Accessed 1 Apr 2017.

  31. Kjøllesda, B. 2019. Kalkulator skal gjere bonden klimasmart. Grannar, 28 Mar, 10–11.

  32. Klima- og forurensningsdirektoratet. 2010. Klimakur 2020. TA-2593/22010. Oslo: Klima- og forurensningsdirektoratet.

  33. Klimasmart Landbruk. 2017. Om oss. https://klimasmartlandbruk.no/om-oss/category849.html. Accessed 24 Mar 2017.

  34. Levidow, L., ed. 2011. Agricultural innovation: Sustaining what agriculture? For what European bio-economy? Final report of the project “Co-operative research on environmental problems in Europe” (CREPE). https://www.tni.org/files/download/CREPE_Final_Report.pdf. Accessed 4 Mar 2019.

  35. Lockie, S., and S. Kitto. 2000. Beyond the farm gate: Production-consumption networks and agri-food research. Sociologia Ruralis 40: 3–19.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Magrini, M.-B., M. Anton, C. Cholez, G. Corre-Hellou, G. Duc, et al. 2016. Why are grain-legumes rarely present in cropping systems despite their environmental and nutritional benefits? Analyzing lock-in in the French agrifood system. Ecological Economics 126: 152–162.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Marsden, T. 2003. The condition of rural sustainability. Assen: Van Gorcum.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Miljødirektoratet. 2018. Klimagassutslipp fra jordbruk. https://www.miljostatus.no/tema/klima/norske-klimagassutslipp/klimagassutslipp-jordbruk/. Accessed 12 Dec 2018.

  39. Minstry of Agriculture and Food. 2008–2009. Klimautfordringene – Landbruket en del av løsningen. Meld. St. 39, 2008–2009. Oslo: Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

  40. Ministry of Agriculture and Food. 2016–2017. Endring og utvikling. En fremtidsrettet jordbruksproduksjon. Meld. St. 11, 2016–2017. Oslo: Ministry of Agriculture and food.

  41. Ministry of Climate and Environment. 2011–2012. Norsk klimapolitikk. Meld. St. 21, 2011–2012. Oslo: Ministry of Climate and Environment.

  42. Ministry of Climate and Environment. 2015. Proposisjon til Stortinget. For budsjettåret 2015. Prop. 1 S, 2014–2015. Oslo: Ministry of Climate and Environment.

  43. Neilson, L.A., and P. Paxton. 2014. Social capital and political consumerism: A multilevel analysis. Social Problems 57: 5–24.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Nettle, R., P. Brightling, and A. Hope. 2013. How programme teams progress agricultural innovation in the Australian dairy industry. Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension 19: 271–290.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Norsk Landbruk. 2017. Se hvor effektiv norsk melkeproduksjon har blitt. https://www.norsklandbruk.no/husdyr/se-hvor-effektiv-norsk-melkeproduksjon-har-blitt/. Accessed 24 Nov 2017.

  46. Norwegian Agriculture Agency. 2017. Omsetningsrådet. https://www.landbruksdirektoratet.no/no/styrer-rad-utvalg/omsetningsradet;jsessionid=86386438BDE2173F0655FBC9C63FD0C4?disableDropdown=true&frontpageShortcut=true&hidden=true#omsetningsraadet. Accessed 1 April 2017.

  47. Norwegian Agriculture Agency. 2018. Nasjonalt miljøprogram 2019–2022. Report no. 28/2018. Oslo: Norwegian Agriculture Agency.

  48. Norwegian Directorate of Health. 2018. Utviklingen i norsk kosthold 2018. Rapport IS-2759. Oslo: Norwegian Directorate of Health. https://helsedirektoratet.no/Lists/Publikasjoner/Attachments/1479/Utviklingen-i-norsk-kosthold-2018-IS-2759.pdf. Accessed 12 Jan 2019.

  49. O’Mara, F.P. 2011. The significance of livestock as a contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions today and in the near future. Animal Feed Science and Technology 166–167: 7–15.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Øvrelid, B.E. and M. Langfjord. 2019. Skal avle fram ku som raper 20 prosent mindre. Trønder-Avisa, 8 Feb, 4–5.

  51. Popp, A., and J. Wilson. 2007. Life cycles, contingency, and agency: Growth, development, and change in English industrial districts and clusters. Environment and Planning A 39: 2975–2992.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Regjeringen. 2019. Enighet om klimaavtale mellom regjeringen og jordbruket. https://www.regjeringen.no/no/aktuelt/enighet-om-klimaavtale-mellom-regjeringen-og-jordbruket/id2661309/. Accessed 20 Sept 2019.

  53. Sahakian, M. 2018. Constructing normality through material and social lock-in: The dynamics of energy consumption among Geneva’s more affluent households. In Demanding energy, ed. A. Hui, R. Day, and G. Walker, 51–71. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Schilpzand, R., D. Liverman, D. Tecklin, R. Gordon, L. Pereira, et al. 2010. Governance beyond the state: Non-state actors and food systems. In Food security and global environmental change, ed. J. Ingram, P. Ericksen, and D. Liverman, 272–300. London: Earthscan.

    Google Scholar 

  55. Sherrington, C., J. Bartley, and D. Moran. 2008. Farm-level constraints on the domestic supply of perennial energy crops in the UK. Energy Policy 36: 2504–2512.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Solberg, E. 2017. NHOs årskonferanse 2017. https://www.regjeringen.no/no/aktuelt/nhos-arskonferanse-2017/id2526157/. Accessed 5 Nov 2018.

  57. Stoate, C., A. Baldi, P. Beja, N.D. Boatman, I. Herzon, et al. 2009. Ecological impacts of early 21st century agricultural change in Europe—A review. Journal of Environmental Management 91: 22–46.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Stærk, B. 2019. Prøv et togeventyr i sommer. Aftenposten, 17 Mar, 20–21.

  59. Sutherland, L.-A., R.J.F. Burton, J. Ingram, K. Blackstock, B. Slee, et al. 2012. Triggering change: Towards a conceptualisation of major change processes in farm decision-making. Journal of Environmental Management 104: 142–151.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Tine. 2019. Transport for fremtiden. https://www.tine.no/om-tine/b%C3%A6rekraft/ressurser-og-miljo/transport-for-fremtiden. Accessed 20 Jan 2019.

  61. Unruh, G.C. 2000. Understanding carbon lock-in. Energy Policy 30: 317–325.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Vanloqueren, G., and P. Baret. 2009. How agricultural research systems shape a technological regime that develops genetic engineering but locks out agroecological innovations. Research Policy 38: 971–983.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Verås, M. 2012. Det norske landbrukssamvirket. Organisasjonsformens styrker og svakheter i møte med sterk konkurranse. Master thesis, Department of Economics/School of Business and Law. Kristiansand: Universitetet i Agder.

  64. Wilson, G.A. 2008. From ‘weak’ to ‘strong’ multifunctionality: Conceptualising farm-level multifunctional transitional pathways. Journal of Rural Studies 24: 367–383.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

This study was financed by The Research Council of Norway, through their programme on climate research (KLIMAFORSK, project number 235670). Many thanks to two anonymous reviewers for useful inputs.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Maja Farstad.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Farstad, M., Vinge, H. & Stræte, E.P. Locked-in or ready for climate change mitigation? Agri-food networks as structures for dairy-beef farming. Agric Hum Values 38, 29–41 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10460-020-10134-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Climate mitigation
  • Agriculture
  • Agri-food networks
  • Lock-in
  • Dairy-beef